In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and other state governors issued emergency executive orders authorizing the attestation and execution of wills, trusts, and other testamentary documents through the use of audio-video technology. Most states have traditionally required that such testamentary documents be signed in the physical presence of two or more witnesses to be valid. Georgia’s executive order permits these witnesses to instead observe the signing via video-conferencing software, alleviating the requirement that the witnesses be physically present with the testator. This authorization, however, only exists through this executive order and could lapse or be overturned by another executive order.
The Georgia General Assembly should codify a version of the governor’s executive order to permanently allow remote execution and attestation of testamentary documents. Remote execution and attestation increases access to estate planning services—particularly in Georgia’s rural communities— without sacrificing the traditional safeguards of wills formalities. This Note presents the arguments for permanently adopting remote execution and attestation, explores efforts by other jurisdictions in this area, and presents a suggested set of criteria for the Georgia General Assembly as guidance when considering such legislation.
Rankin, Jessie Daniel
"Socially Distant Signing: Why Georgia Should Adopt Remote Will Execution in the Post-COVID World,"
Georgia Law Review: Vol. 56:
1, Article 8.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/glr/vol56/iss1/8